Minnesota Voters Alliance v Mansky

Alliance sought review of the 8th Circuit decision rejecting its 1st Amendment challenge to Minnesota’s ban on political badges and clothing with political messages at a polling place. The court, 7-2, reversed and remanded. The majority held that the polling place is nonpublic forum, that it is permissible for states to set aside the polling place as place of choosing instead of campaigning and limit campaigning activities including campaign apparel there just as the Court allows states to crate buffer zones outside polling places, that Minnesota’s ban is unreasonable as it does not define political and the materials offered by to clarify what is covered do not offer principled limitations as it covers all positions by any politely candidate or party and thus require elections judges to know all such potions as of the time of voter casts his ballot and the ban also covers well known groups with political views whether or not the views have anything to do with items on the ballot and is silent about what “well known” means and the inconsistent results offered at oral argument by Minnesota’s attorneys show the ban as written is subject to viewpoint discrimination or unfair or arbitrary enforcement as it lacks workable objective standards. Sotomayor, joined by Breyer, dissented arguing that the Court should certify the issue of the meaning of the statutory ban to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

China Agritech, Inc. v Resh

China sought review of the 9th Circuit decision allowing Resh to file a class action suit after the statute of limitations ran based on equitable tolling from two prior rejected class actions. The court, with Sotomayor concurring in judgment, resolved a circuit split on the issue and reversed and remanded. The majority held the equitable tolling for individual suits under the American Pipe precedent does not extend to class actions because it does not serve the economy of litigation to allow such suits given the statutory and rules instructions to have all putative class representatives file as early as possible for courts to identity the best class representative, the fact that late filing class representatives have not acted diligently to preserve their rights and adopting Resh’s position would effectively eliminate limitations periods in  class actions and noted that there have not been significant increases in protective filings in circuits which have not allowed untimely suits. Sotomayor concurred in judgment arguing federal securities class action statutory requirements support the majority position, but, the concerns about best representative and limitless actions are either not applicable in the general class action setting or can be resolved by principles of comity between courts and adopting a rule that class noncertification based on suitability does not toll future class actions.

Animal Sciences Products, Inc. v Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

Products sought review of the 2nd Circuit decision that statements about the meaning of foreign law by a foreign government in litigation are entitled to dispositive effect on the issue of foreign law’s meaning. The Court, resolving a circuit split on the issue, reversed and remanded. It held that under Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1, district courts are allowed to look at  any relevant material or source and after weighing all relevant considerations make a ruling on foreign law’s meaning as matter of law, that the 2nd Circuit’s approach is consistent with 44.1 and Court precedent on determining the meaning of state law by giving dispositive weight to one source instead of considering all relevant sources, the Pink decision relied upon by 2nd Circuit does not require dispositive weight to be given to any communication from a foreign government about its law and finally noted the outcome here is consistent with treaties on obtaining information about a  foreign country’s law from that country’s government.

Sveen v Melin

Sveen sought review of the 8th Circuit decision that retroactive application of a Minnesota law revoking a designation of a then spouse as a life insurance beneficiary upon divorce violates the contract clause. The Court, resolving a circuit split, reversed and remanded 8-1. The majority held that Minnesota’s law did not substantially impair preexisting contractual arrangements as it aims to reflect policyholder intent, does no more than a divorce court has had power to do in the life insurance context and only supplies a default rule which can be overcome with minimal paperwork. Gorsuch dissented arguing laws normally apply only prospectively, the contracts clause embodies this rule for contracts and protects existing contracts from state law impairment, recent court precedent allowing some impairments is inconsistent with the original public meaning of the clause and should not be followed, but, even under those precedent the statute here violates the contract clause because beneficiary designations the whole point of lie insurance and statutes that change beneficiaries thus substantially impair the obligations of the insurance contract and the statute is unreasonable because Minnesota could have simply required divorcing spouses to confirm they have reviewed insurance designations or require insurance companies, courts or attorneys to review the issue with the parties, the power of divorce courts is irrelevant and the precedent relied upon by the majority involves remedies not obligations.